Archives For Money

By Eric on April 25, 2014 6

If you cringe when you hear the phrase “tight budget,” you’re likely not alone. I cringe too. I don’t want to be known as a tight-wad when it comes to money. And I don’t think that I am. I have been blessed in many ways over the years, but there have certainly been times when money has been tighter than others.

Tight Budget

I suppose it’s a loaded question anyway. Is there just one right answer? I don’t think so. I think there are some principles that can help you find a balance that works for you. After all, they do call it, personal finance!

What constitutes a “tight budget,” anyway?

I would say that “tight budget” is relative to your spending situation before you started focusing on your finances. Our budget is far tighter and focused simply by budgeting all of our income before the month begins. There are certainly fun things that we budget for, but it’s intentional now that we’re budgeting.

It all comes down to managing the tension and stress that comes with personal finances. Most people struggle with feeling like they never have enough. Or that their not as far along financially as they wish. Heck, I struggle with this sometimes, too. It’s natural, and a bit of tension can help keep us motivated.

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By Eric on April 21, 2014 +

Gasoline, gas or fuel. Whatever you want to call it, budgeting for gas is the most annoying category. Gas prices float up and down constantly, making it hard to budget before the month begins. This past few weeks, prices in Des Moines were below $3.30. And when I looked the other day they were up to $3.49. Ugh!

Gas pump

The short answer to make budgeting for gas easier for everyone would be to stop the powers that be from moving them up and down all the time. I wish I had that kind of influence. The next best thing we can do is try to make a plan to accommodate our reality. That or stop driving motorized vehicles… or buy a Tesla… but paying for a Tesla has it’s own set of issues. Back on point…

This kind of fluctuation can cause enough stress to make you want to give up on budgeting all together. Fear not, I have some tools to help!

How to make budgeting for gas easy

  1. Track spending: We use an iPhone app called Gas Cubby (available in the App store) to track our fuel consumption. We also input our mileage and the app has tracked our MPG and cost of operation on our vehicles since November 2009. Over time we’ve been able to see how much we spend on average every month in our fuel category.Gas Cubby app report
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By Eric on April 15, 2014 +

Proverbs 22:6 says…

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

What a fitting verse to summarize the premise of Dave Ramsey and (his daughter) Rachel Cruze’s book that’s coming out on April 22, 2014. The official title is “Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money,” but Proverbs 22:6 does a pretty good job, too.

I’ve been looking forward to this book coming out after hearing the buzz about it, but I’m even more excited that we are able to be apart of the official launch team for Smart Money Smart Kids. Not only did we get a sneak peak at the book, but we’re able to share it with y’all as well (I imagine that’s how they would say it in Nashville).

As I started diving into the book, I was immediately hooked by a story of a woman who approached Dave after a talk he gave early on in his personal finance career; she said,

“Dave, that was great information. Why don’t parents teach their children about money? Why don’t we teach basic money skills like this in schools? Our kids need to know this information.”

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By Eric on April 11, 2014 2

A train can only be moving either forward or backward. It can’t be doing both at the same time. And if a train is your journey to financial freedom, then your spending/saving is the direction it’s moving. (I thought a train analogy would be fun…here we go!)

Four years ago, we were pulling the brakes on our train. Trying to slow it down. We didn’t know any better before that, but as we were rolling down the tracks we figured out that while we were going fast, we were going in the wrong direction. We had been educated on a better way to take care of our finances (through Financial Peace University), and we knew we had to change directions.

Train Tracks

Knowing is one thing, but how in the world do you slow down a locomotive, bring it to a stop and get it to reverse directions?

Trains can’t stop quickly or swerve. The average freight train is about 1 to 1¼ miles in length (90 to 120 rail cars). When it’s moving at 55 miles an hour, it can take a mile or more to stop after the locomotive engineer fully applies the emergency brake. (from here)

How to get the train to reverse directions

Trains and money can do lots of things. They are tools that serve great purposes. But as the engineer, it’s our job to make the tools work to help us accomplish our goals. A freight train is useless and can cause great trouble if it ends up at the wrong destination.

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By Eric on April 9, 2014 2

Do you want to know the absolute best budgeting tool in the whole wide universe? The one that will keep you on track financially, and help you reach your goals quicker than any other? It’s the budgeting tool that you will actually use. Which is why I was excited to give Savvy Spreadsheets a test drive. To be able to share another affordable tool with you that might help you keep track of your finances.

Enter the Super Deluxe Budget by Savvy Spreadsheets

 

Savvy Spreadsheets Review

 

Let me preface this review with a few thoughts. Of course, you can get a free budget spreadsheet when you sign up for our email newsletter. But, it also follows the universal truth “you get what you pay for.” While that spreadsheet is super simple and functional, my Microsoft excel skills are fairly limited.

When I first opened up the Super Deluxe Budget, I felt like I was in a whole new world of Excel (in a good way). It’s so well thought out, and developed, that it’s pretty much a fully functioning desktop application inside of Excel. (Amazing!)

And I’m not so much a “read the directions” guy, but more of a “let’s dive in and see how this thing works” guy. And as I started creating a budget within the spreadsheet I was pleasantly surprised with the helpful tutorial style reminders and messages I received.

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